And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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White Sox 3, Angels 0: Chris Sale was fantastic. And not just because of that suh-weet 1983 throwback jersey. A perfect game into the seventh and then the hit that inning to Mike Trout was all the Angels could muster.

Indians 4, Tigers 3: Watched this one with the girlfriend’s parents. Tigers fans. Let’s just say that Jose Valverde will not be getting a Christmas card from them. Her dad called the implosion before it happened. I suppose one can do that when one watches Valverde enough. In other news, lots of praise for Asdrubal Cabrera’s fancy footwork on a double play in the bottom of the ninth. And it was. But if Torii Hunter was actually running it out at full speed it wouldn’t have been a double play. No word on this from the announcers. Found that odd.

Reds 5, Brewers 1: Nothing so fun in this one as some things I saw in Cincinnati when I went to the game on Saturday. Best thing there: Brewers pitcher struck out a Reds hitter, Jonathan Lucroy fires it off to third base to send it around the horn and Yuniesky Bentancourt … drops it.  Pretty epic. Here Donald Lutz drove in three. God, shut up, Lutz.

Cubs 2, Nationals 1: Storen and Soriano should film a buddy cop movie in which they take over cases from ace detectives and then totally lose the trail of the killer.

Pirates 3, Mets 2:  I suppose Matt Harvey isn’t going to be near perfect every time. And plays like this and like this don’t happen every day either.

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 4: Two homers for Jose Bautista. Three more from other Blue Jays. Two of three from the Sox. Maybe that’s something to grow on.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 2: After being shut down on Friday AND Saturday night, the Rockies return the favor with a gem from Jorge De La Rosa and a three-run homer from Troy Tulowitzki.

Rays 4, Padres 2: The Rays are heating up. They’ve won five straight. Here a homer from James Loney — where the hell is his heat coming from? — and solid bullpen work brought it home.

Giants 5, Braves 1: Highlight of the game was Pablo Sandoval hitting a ball into McCovey Cove and the guy in the kayak totally eating it face first into the water when he tried to get the ball. I may or may not have wished for a great white shark to eat him when it happened, but I may or may not have been aggravated at my team playing like garbage too, so there was an excuse for my hostility.

Yankees 4, Royals 2: Homers from Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano. Umpire Laz Diaz also tried to goad Hiroki Kuroda into a fight, which was simply ridiculous.

Dodgers 5, Marlins 3: Nice bounceback start for Chris Capuano, who had one to forget last Monday against the Diamondbacks. Miami cures a lot of ills.

Orioles 6, Twins 0:  Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along for five shutout innings before having to leave with an oblique strain, but the bullpen finished the shutout for him. Baltimore has won six of eight.

Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Brandon McCarthy’s best start of the year went for naught when Philly came back late, scoring two off Heath Bell in the ninth and then capped off by a two-run single by Ryan Howard in the tenth. Thank you, by-the-book managing from Kirk Gibson. McCarthy had 87 pitches through eight shutout innings. He has thrown over 100 pitches four times this year. You’d think he’d get a chance to pitch the ninth.

Rangers 12, Astros 7: “[Team] completes sweep of Astros” is Shift + CTRL + A on my machine. What is it on yours?

Mariners 6, Athletics 1: Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer. Joe Saunders remains unbeatable at home. Jason Bay hit a homer and Jesus Montero had an RBI. No word what the other six or seven DHs they have did.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.